During winter break, one needs decadent breakfasts to go along with the decadent dinners, only ensuring that one's diet in the new year is based on a month of over-indulgence and excess. No wimpy breakfasts around here, my friends.
Thus, I whipped up this brioche. "Whipped up!" you might snarl and scoff. Yes, I say, whipped up. This is remarkably easy, and the only thing that it needs is time. You don't even need to knead it.
Five years ago, dear friends of ours swooped down from Seattle years ago--the he in this couple is a delightful bread baker, and he swore by this cookbook: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Upon their return to Washington, they sent the husband and I a copy of this book, and we have been all the better for it, if our waistlines have not.
The premise of the book is that you should have pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough hanging out in your refrigerator for that moment when a fresh bread hankering strikes you. Then you simply cook up what you want: et voilà, bread.
This time around, I started from the beginning--I didn't have the brioche dough in my fridge. I made half of the brioche recipe (which makes 4 loaves) and then broke the dough in half. One half I used for the recipe below, and the other half is now in my freezer, ensuring that when the mood strikes, I can cook up a loaf of brioche. The recipe below represents the same for you.
The half of brioche dough that I used for this recipe gets mixed with a bowl of pre-moistened Swiss muesli--the result is a hearty breakfast bread that is slightly sweet. The muesli I used had some dried raisins and figs, which leads to little surprises in a bite here and there. And this bread is as wonderful with preserves as it is merely slathered with butter and a pinch of salt.
May my waistline quickly drop these pounds in the new year. Happy New Year!
Swiss Muesli Breakfast Brioche
Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
one 1-pound loaf (and a pound brioche dough for a small, plain loaf)
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 Tbsp granulated yeast (1 packet)
3/4 Tbsp Kosher salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Swiss muesli
1/2 cup milk
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)
1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 3-quart bowl.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. (You may notice lumps in the dough, but they will disappear in the finished product.)
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. After the initial rise, mix together the Swiss muesli and the milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
5. Cut off a 1 pound (grapefruit size) piece of the brioche dough. Place it into bowl. As for the other 1 pound see below note.* Using your hands, blend the muesli into the dough in the bowl (which will be very wet and sticky).
6. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
7. Allow the ball to rest for 40 minutes on a flour-dusted pizza peel.
8. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a baking stone placed on a middle rack. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash. Slide the bread directly onto the stone, and bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, the bread will not form a hard crust.
Note: Here's what to do with the other pound of brioche dough--in fact it's everything but step 4 and put the brioche in a small (mini) loaf pan.
continuing from step 3 and skipping step 4:
5. Grease a mini loaf pan. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Elongate into an oval and place in the prepared pan. Allow to rest for 40 minutes.
7. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, the bread will not form a hard, crackling crust.